Remote Learning Options Return As Schools Close In Response To COVID

Photo Credit: Street Lab / CC 

Published August 31, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Several schools across Tennessee have begun shutting down citing a “strong surge in COVID cases and quarantines among teachers and staff” and they have been alerted that remote learning is an option on a conditional basis.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

As reported by FOX 17, Wilson County Schools and Warren County Schools are both closed all this week. 

Coffee County Schools report they will be closed the first half of the week and Rutherford County for part of the week. 

Columbia Center High School in Maury County and Fairview Middle School in Williamson County have already been closed for a short time. 

Also in Rutherford County, Christiana Middle School was closed yesterday, Monday, August 30th.  Blackman Middle School 7th grade is closed yesterday and today.  And 3rd and 5th grades at Rockvale Elementary School closed Monday and aren’t slated to return to school until tomorrow. 

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On Wednesday, August 25, Governor Bill Lee said he has no plans for Tennessee to shift back to remote learning and current law prohibits school districts from fully pivoting back to remote learning. 

Currently, schools are using their “stockpiled days” for their shutdowns, which in a normal year would be used for snow days and the like. 

However, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn sent a letter on Friday, August 27th, to school leaders stating that individual schools and classrooms can seek a waiver to state Board of Education rules if they are able to document a “COVID-related” need if the closures exceed their stockpiled days. 

During a press conference last week, Schwinn stated school districts have the option to host temporary virtual learning in response to a Covid outbreak or surge. Schools are able to do this without using days that have been allotted for weather, sickness, or issues with staffing. 

Schwinn clarified that remote learning “is available to use on a school-by-school basis and an individual basis. You cannot use it district-wide.” 

Schwinn also stated that districts have options beyond that. They can have temporary online classes, or allow quarantined teachers to virtually teach in-person classes. 

According to Schwinn, the state does not plan to implement a blanket approach in response to Covid-19 or other staffing problems. She added they will not be defining what constitutes a staffing crisis or Covid outbreak.  

“I trust my district leaders to make the best decisions for their communities on that,” she said. 

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About the Author:

Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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